Travel Videos Take Off on YouTube and Land in Exotic Places

Travel Videos Take Off on YouTube and Land in Exotic Places

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Our friends at YouTube have done it again. They’ve told us that 90 percent of TV viewers also visit Google and YouTube. They’ve told us how gamers turn to YouTube for a virtual taste of E3 2014. And now, an article written by Hailey Crowel, Haley Gribben, and Jaclyn Loo, which was just published on Think with Google, is telling us that travel content is taking off on YouTube.

Travel Content Takes off On YouTube

Travel content has proliferated as people around the world share their experiences and seek inspiration for their next adventure. Every month, more than one billion people visit YouTube to watch more than six billion hours of video, making YouTube an ideal place to explore how travelers interact with video content. According to a recent study Google conducted with Ipsos MediaCT, two out of three U.S. consumers watch online travel videos when they’re thinking about taking a trip.

But what are travelers looking for? What’s popular? What content are they watching? To find out, the authors analyzed aggregated and anonymized views of travel content on YouTube in the U.S. from early 2012 to early 2014. For the purposes of this research, they defined “travelers” as those individuals who engage with or search for travel content on and/or YouTube. Overall, their findings have big implications for marketers looking to connect with travelers, regardless of category.

Videos Influence Travel Decisions

YouTube data shows that travelers are spending more time watching online videos than ever before, with views of travel-related content up 118% year over year (YoY). According to the data, travelers are increasingly using mobile devices to consume travel-related videos anytime and anywhere; in 2013, mobile devices accounted for roughly 30% of all travel video views, with mobile viewing up 97% on smartphones and 205% on tablets, YoY.

Across devices—desktop and mobile—travelers are consuming travel-related videos around the clock. Nearly half are viewed during prime time (3:00–10:00 p.m. PST).While desktop users tend to watch videos throughout the day, smartphone and tablet users tend to tune in during the evening hours.

Travel chart 1

88% of YouTube Travel Searches Focus on Destinations

What’s piquing their interest? Eighty-eight percent of YouTube travel searches focus on destinations, attractions/points of interest, or general travel ideas.

Much like the seasonality seen in the industry overall, travel search activity on YouTube peaks in July, with smaller spikes in March and October. While a large percentage of travel searches are brand specific and based on purchase-intent activity, searches on YouTube generally occur earlier in the travel-planning process.

Travel chart 2

Compelling Content Grabs Travelers’ Attention

While travel watchers on YouTube are interested in community-generated content, the majority of travel-related views (67%) are for brand or professionally released videos. In fact, views of branded videos are up 394% YoY, and we see companies with a strong brand presence, such as Turkish Airlines, Disney Parks & Resorts, and Expedia, making the most of this opportunity.

Travel chart 3

Viewership across travel categories increased significantly YoY. While most are tuning in to watch videos about tourist destinations and attractions (40% of the total travel views), the largest growth can be seen in the cruises and charters category, up an impressive 262%.This rise is due, in large part, to an increase in videos from companies such as Carnival Cruise Lines, Viking River Cruises and Princess Cruises.

Travel chart 4

Travelers are Looking to Sustain a Connection

Travelers want to do more than just watch videos on YouTube; they want to connect with creators and brands. In 2014 year to date, subscriptions to top travel channels on YouTube have increased 106% YoY. And these subscribers watch 86% longer per view than non-subscribers do.

They’re also extremely interested in hearing real-life stories. Nearly half of the travel subscriptions are to vlogs (video blogs) that feature personal travel experiences.

Travel chart 5

Travel vlogs, in fact, receive 4x more social engagement (likes, comments, shares, favorites and subscriptions) than other types of travel content on YouTube. Travelers tend to find them more engaging on a per-view basis.

Travel chart 6

People of all ages subscribe to YouTube travel content. Fifty percent of travel channel subscribers are aged 25 to 64, while 38% fall in the 18 to 24 age range.The younger audience tends to favor travel vlogs, suggesting they have more of an interest in “authentic” content. Perhaps they’re living vicariously through their fellow YouTubers, or, at the very least, getting inspired to travel.

The 25-to-64-year-olds seem to be interested in a broader range of content relevant to frequent travelers. Often these are videos associated with decisions further down the travel purchase path, such as brand information, reviews and tips.

Travel chart 7

Travel Videos Drive Brand Buzz

There are several videos in the travel category that have “gone viral.” That’s because travelers, like other YouTube users, enjoy sharing their favorite videos with friends, family and colleagues.

Looking at travel videos that have gone viral (defined as content created to drive buzz that’s not overly transactional and generated 500,000 views or more), airline companies account for most of the views (76%). Turkish Airlines’ “Kobe vs. Messi” series, Virgin America’s “#VXSafetyDance” and WestJet’s “Christmas Miracle: Real Time Giving” are great examples of videos that are engaging, fun and, at times, touching.

Airlines have embraced video as a powerful differentiation tool, one that allows their brands to stand out and be creative with a range of topics. One of my favorite examples is Air New Zealand, which has published such viral video hits as “An Unexpected Briefing #airnzhobbit” and “Safety in Paradise #airnzsafetyvideo.” When I watched these videos, I swear that I was focused on destinations, attractions/points of interest, or general travel ideas. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

Nineteen percent of viral video views come from destinations, which include brands such as Disney Parks & Resorts. Two standout examples from Disney Parks are “Grumpy Cat Finds Her Disney Side” and “Disneyland Musical Marriage Proposal.”

While a viral video can rack up millions of views (if you’re lucky), views are just one measure of a video’s success. Shares, subscribers gained and other online actions are important as well.

Implications for Video Marketers

What’s the net net? Well, online video is a powerful way for travel marketers and advertisers to convey excitement about a destination, product, service or brand. From 2012 to 2013, uploads of travel-related videos (both brand/professionally released and community generated) grew by 190%, and growth in travel video uploads overall outpace those of other major categories on YouTube.

So, once again, I want to thank our friends at YouTube for sharing their data, analysis, and insights with us, so we can share it with all of the internet marketers and video content producers who read ReelSEO. I know there are times when we do things that drive you crazy – like publishing an open memo to Susan Wojcicki telling her that YouTube needs its own ad sales force. So, we really appreciate the fact that you understand our goal is to help evangelize for the industry. So, keep the data, analysis and insights coming.

Oh, and get your own ad sales force.


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